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First Impressions: Two New Leaders In Nevada's Art Scene

Donato Cabrera conducting the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Las Vegas Philharmonic

Donato Cabrera conducting the Las Vegas Philharmonic

Many people in Nevada’s arts community believe Las Vegas is on the cusp of some important changes. They feel it’s becoming competitive with major arts centers around the country. 

Leading that charge is two new leaders in the arts.  

Lacey Huszcza is the Executive Director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic. She started in early December.  

Lacey Huszcza/Credit: Las Vegas Philharmonic

Huszcza came to Las Vegas after working with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. 

She told KNPR's State of Nevada that when she visited the city she felt it was ready for more arts and culture.

“For me, it was the wide array of possibilities that were presented and the immense potential that this city has for a really exciting art scene,” she said, “I’m here to try and increase the arts visibility in the city and bring the Philharmonic to one of the cornerstones of what that culture looks like.”

She said the primary audience will be locals and not the tourists that frequent the Strip.

Huszcza believes there is a group of transplants who now call the city home who are looking for the cultural amenities they had in their home cities.

“There is a major influx of people coming from major metropolitan areas, people moving to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia and these are people who want the art and culture that they had in those other cities,” she said.

She would also like to see more collaboration between the arts organizations around Southern Nevada. Huszcza envisions a time where visual arts can be found in the concert hall and music can be found in art galleries and museums.

Heather Harmon is Deputy Director of the Nevada Museum of Art/Las Vegas. She started March 1. 

Harmon's job won't be just to expand the reach of the visual arts in Las Vegas but to help finally build a museum for those arts.


Portrait for Nevada Women’s Philanthropy/Photo credit: Omar Eltakrori


For years, the dream of having an actual art museum for Southern Nevada has been just that - a dream.

Harmon is convinced that dream is about to become a reality.

The museum is working to raise money to match funding provided by the City of Las Vegas. It has until October to get a 2 for 1 match, which is about $12 million.

Harmon said they are looking for a single donor who will get a naming opportunity. 

She said the museum is getting interest from potential donors, especially from people for whom Las Vegas is a beloved home. 

"Las Vegas is essentially an oasis that was built out of people who had dreams and envisioned this city becoming what it is today and that spirit is still very much thriving," she said.

Harmon is actually a Las Vegas native who left and decided to come back. While outside of Southern Nevada, she met many people who were skeptical of Las Vegas as a place for arts and culture.

She believes supporters of the new museum want to change that perception just like she does.

“The city that I left wasn’t ready for this type of opportunity," she said, "The city that I returned to has a lot of the foundations and the milestones that were necessary to be laid out for us to come in now with one another and strengthen the cultural perception and broadcast that out to the world.”

Harmon believes five years from now Las Vegas will be cutting the ribbon on the art museum.

Lacey Huszcza, Executive Director, Las Vegas Philharmonic; Heather Harmon, Deputy Director, The Nevada Museum of Art

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.